With the fall equinox tomorrow (Saturday, September 22), the specter of diminishing daylight becomes more and more a reality. Visibility is always a primary concern for cyclists, and more so when your early morning or early evening rides more frequently experience low-light conditions or even darkness. And that’s where reflective clothing, parts, and accessories come into play.
First, when we refer to cycling gear with reflective properties, that means the material becomes super-bright from exposure to direct light, which for cyclists typically entails a vehicle’s headlights. The light bounces directly back to the driver and alerts the motorist to your presence. Otherwise, in the absence of direct light, the material is subtle and unobtrusive, seamlessly blending into the gear it’s on. A factor to consider in reflective cycling clothing and gear is utilizing a combination of reflective elements (a full ensemble of clothing tops and bottoms, packs/panniers, and tires) to provide sufficient, collective visual cues to identify you as a cyclist out on the road.
The great part about utilizing all of these reflective items is that the reflective properties are built right into cycling gear you’ll use anyway as part of your regular routine. You don’t have to think twice about it or have to take an extra step to make sure your safety is optimized.
Clothing is a fundamental means of adding reflectivity to your daily cycling routine. And with cooler fall weather approaching, you can both prepare for the conditions as well as enhance your safety. There are basic, staple options such as the Bellwether Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey as well as the Canari Spiral Women’s Tights. There are plenty of jacket options for a variety of conditions beginning with the super-versatile Canari Optimo 2 in 1 Jacket that features removable sleeves to it can be used as either a jacket or vest.
For wet weather conditions there is the Castelli Sella Rain Jacket, while for straightforward blustery, windy days there’s the Mavic Cosmic Pro Wind Jacket or the Canari Solar Flare Windshell. All of these clothing items feature strategically placed reflective logos, piping, and accents that are subtle in daylight conditions, but provide superb reflectivity from a variety of angles when you’re riding in low-light or dark conditions.
And don’t forget other clothing items such as gloves (such as Pearl Izumi Cyclone Gel Gloves) and shoe covers (such as Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB Shoe Covers) to further enhance reflectivity and provide further visual cues to motorists, particularly with items such as shoe covers that are in motion as you pedal.
Helmets with reflectivity are an important way to complete your kit, with the Bell Z20 MIPS Ghost Reflective Road Helmet a superb option. The helmet is treated with a durable, reflective coating under the helmet’s clear coat that glows with eye-searing intensity when hit with direct light. And it’s also a super-subtle treatment that has no effect on the helmet’s aesthetics in daylight.
PACKS & PANNIERS
The trusty seatpack is a perfect means to add reflectivity to your bike with options such as the Nashbar Waterproof Saddle Bag, Topeak Survival Tool Wedge II, or the BiKASE Momentum Seat Bag all featuring reflective logos and piping that are readily visible to motorists approaching from behind.
Commuting and running errands around town means you’ll need panniers to carry your gear, so why not choose something like the TransIt Metro Grocery Pannier or BiKASE Reggie H20 Proof Pannier with reflective elements that are visible from both the side as well as behind.
When it comes to parts of your bicycle, tires with reflective striping on the sidewalls make perfect sense for the safety-minded cyclist. The venerable Continental brand is noted for just such a feature, and the sidewall reflective striping is prevalent on a variety of tires such as the Town Ride City Tire, the Sport Contact City Tire, and the Top Contact II City Tire.
Of course, reflective clothing and gear are only one part of being a safe cyclist when you’re riding in low-light conditions or full-on darkness. Lights, both headlights and tail lights, are a must-have item to illuminate your way and also provide critical visibility to motorists, pedestrians, and fellow cyclists. And Bike Nashbar has plenty of lights to choose from to fit your budget as well as illumination demands.
Stay safe, stay vigilant, and enjoy your rides during this transition into fall cycling.